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Medical Roundup

January 20, 2006

Scientists have found an explosive new way to pack several weeks’ worth of vaccines into a single shot.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Drugs with a fuse. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Getting a shot is bad enough, but many vaccines require multiple shots over the course of months. Now doctors in Belgium have developed something called "self-exploding" microcapsules that may eliminate booster shots. The microcapsules consist of a membrane with gelatin and medicine inside. As the gel degrades, pressure builds up until the capsule explodes, releasing the drug. The capsules can be designed to break open weeks or even months after injection.

In other medical research, scientists at Vanderbilt University have discovered that a class of compounds in the body called prostaglandins are critical for embryonic development. All vertebrates start out as a single layer of cells; prostaglandins signal those cells to reorganize themselves into the tube-like shape that all vertebrates have, from fish to people.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.